"How to introduce ball control so
kids improve their first touch"

How does a player learn ball control techniques to bring the ball out of the air?  A player can use the head, chest, thigh or foot to get the ball on the ground.  These techniques are vitally important for player to learn, so the players develop a good first touch, which leads to being able to make decisions like when to pass, dribble or shoot.

The best players have control which looks effortless. They get the soccer ball on the ground quickly, creating time and space.I love seeing a player with really good ball control. What soccer skills need to be mastered when using ball control to bring the ball out of the air?

  • Sole trap using the sole to trap the soccer ball.
  • Instep trap using the laces to trap the soccer ball.
  • Inside foot trap using the inside foot to cushion the soccer ball.
  • Thigh trap using the thigh to cushion the soccer ball.
  • Chest trap - Pop the ball up on the chest and control the soccer ball.
  • Head trap - A nice touch on the head to control the soccer ball.

The basic soccer ball control skills are paramount to kids becoming confident and successful soccer players.

Sole trap

Why is the sole trap one of the most effective traps kids can learn?

The kids can use the trap to get the ball down on the ground very quickly.

3 tips for the sole of the foot trap...

  • The player waits the for the ball to drop to the ground.
  • Lifts the foot - foot extended out, heal down and toe up.
  • The player puts the foot on the soccer ball.

What are some common mistakes the kids will make when they are learning?

  • The players will lift the foot up to get the ball and the ball will hit the toe..
    1. The problem is easily corrected by getting the toe up so the sole of the foot is on the ball.
    2. Letting the ball almost hit the ground before getting the foot on the ball.

The benefits of the sole foot trap are the player can pick their head up quickly after using this trap, to make a decision to dribble or pass the soccer ball, which helps the player keep possession of the soccer ball.

The instep trap

The instep trap works when?

  • The foot is extended straight out...toe is not down or curled , but straight when using the instep trap to get the ball down.
  • The player brings the foot up to meet the soccer ball, and drops the foot down to cushion the ball on the top of the foot or laces, when controlling the soccer ball.
  • The ball should settle right in front of the player, and not between the feet, so that the player can dribble or pass the ball.

Great when the ball is dropping straight down...

The inside foot trap

This is a great skill for a driven ball...

  • This trap is just like trapping a pass except that the player is doing it out of the air.
  • The player is going to control more of a driven ball - the ball is coming at the player with speed.
  • The player raises the foot to meet the ball and draws the foot back, as the soccer ball touches the foot, to cushion the ball and bring it under control.

Once again the player does not want the ball caught between the feet, but out in front, so that they can dribble or pass.

Thigh control

Why is the thigh trap such an effective skill for controlling the soccer ball?

  • The player raises the thigh slightly to cushion the ball, so that the ball drops to the ground.
  • The player will lose control of the ball if the ball hits the knee. The ball should land on the thigh and not the knee.
  • A coach can demonstrate this skill by tapping his or her thigh to show the players where the ball should land.

If the soccer ball hits the knee, it will bounce away. A good skill for driven balls, or for a ball that is high in the air.

The chest trap

What is the technique involved in mastering the chest trap?

  • The player will get onto his or her toes, and bend the knees slightly.
  • The player will then bring their arms out for balance, and make the chest as big as possible to cushion the ball.
  • It helps if the player can pop the ball up slightly, so they have time to take the next touch.

The chest trap is useful for high balls, driven balls or balls that bounce up in front of the player. This will take the players a little bit of time to master...be patient!

Head control

How can the players use the head to bring the ball out of the air with a small touch?

  • This skill requires the player to cushion the ball on the head - small touch.
  • Bending the knees and getting a good base by moving the feet apart when controlling the ball.

Generally, this skill will apply to a bouncing ball, or ball in the air. This skill can be taught to your more advanced players.

An easy ball control exercise

The players throw the ball to themselves and use the different surfaces to control the soccer ball.

 Example: The coach wants the player to master the sole trap to control the ball. The coach will bring the players in and demonstrate the skill.

  • He or she throws the ball up and controls the soccer ball with the sole of the foot.
  • The players go out and repeat the skill for a minute with the coach watching to see who does well.
  • The player that has the best ball control becomes the demonstrator, this builds a lot of confidence in players if they can do it in front of the group.

Game: The coach has half the players in a circle with a ball. The other half are in the middle of the circle...the players in the middle run from player to player on the outside, and receive balls that are served from the hands.

 You can coach kids to perform the different skills like sole trap, instep trap, thigh trap, chest trap or headers. Add these skills to your Soccer practice plans... click here!

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